Miami's beat-maestro extraordinaire DJ Craze is everywhere these days, winning the International Turntablist Federation's scratching competition in Amsterdam, jetting off to Calgary, Canada, for a club date, and receiving accolades from the New York Times. His full-length debut Crazeë Musick is set for release later this month on San Francisco's Bomb Records, but in the meantime, we have "Bust It!" -- a collaboration between Craze and German aural deconstructionists Funkstsrung. Drawing heavily from the Berlin school of Basic Channel-style techno, Funkstsrung marries skittering rhythmic clicks to a droning, washed-out sonic terrain. You can find "Bust It!" on Additional Productions (K7), which collects some of the more twisted remixes the group has done, from an eerie take on Bjsrk, to a version of the Wu Tang Clan's "Reunited" that strips the song down to just Ol' Dirty Bastard bellowing in an echo chamber.
From his home in Munich, Germany, Funkstsrung's Michael Fakesch says: "We met Craze through Seven from Chocolate Industries [the Miami label] who told us he was brilliant. We booked Craze for a party here in Munich -- oh my god, he was more than brilliant! We were so enthusiastic about what he did, we decided right there we had to do something with him." The meeting of the minds finally took place this past December, with Funkstsrung layering their sound around Craze's rapid-fire scratches during a session recorded in a friend's living room. Prodded for an obligatory comment on Miami, where the group performed during the Winter Music Conference, Fakesch says, "The WMC was a little bit too commercial for us -- only house and drum and bass events, which we hate. A great thing would be if the WMC would feature more innovative music, but maybe that wouldn't fit into the 'party' feeling of Miami in general. It's sad."
If you head over to the Van Dyke Cafe (846 Lincoln Rd.) on Monday, May 17, try to leave your pals with Tourette's syndrome at home. Bassist Don Wilner (who also curates the jazz schedule at the Van Dyke) will be recording a series of live duets with pianist Eddie Higgins, the results of which are tentatively set for release on Sunnyside Records in the fall.
"When you go to the studio, you're under the gun, the tape is rolling, there's absolute silence," Wilner says. "I know a lot of musicians can relax with all that, but for Higgins and me, it's exactly the opposite. But when we're in a live gig, it's like tying our shoes. That's where we play great together. We've had much better moments live than we've ever had in a recording studio, so we're going to try and capture that." Wilner and Higgins will play sets at 9:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m., and midnight.
On another jazz note, trumpeter Terence Blanchard arrives in town with a tight sextet for a set on Friday, May 14 at the Coral Gables Congregational Church. (Call 305-662-8889 for information.) Expect buttery-smooth soloing of the sort Blanchard has stamped all over his many film scores for Spike Lee. The show is a benefit for WDNA-FM (88.9), which seems a perfect fit; both Blanchard and the station seem to have the straight-ahead niche of jazz nailed down. It does, however, beg the question: Couldn't WDNA make some more room in its schedule for jazz that pushes the envelope? On the air recently, morning DJ Frank Consola began apologizing for spinning a Charles Mingus record -- as if the station manager was going to come running into the studio and smash the offending album at any second.
Priya Ray, violinist and singer with Miami's famed art punks Kreamy 'Lectric Santa, remains hospitalized, partially paralyzed after an accidental fall. Ray has no health insurance, so this Sunday evening's benefit concert for her at Tobacco Road (the fifth local benefit so far) is particularly important. And yet it also feels strangely inappropriate. Promoter Danny Jessup has rounded up a cast of the usual suspects to perform, but only a few of these acts seem to have anything in common with Kreamy 'Lectric Santa's delightfully skewed vision. Although it's certainly heartening to see such a wide variety of pop outfits paying tribute to Ray, all obviously touched in some way by her music, the standard "benefit concert" just doesn't seem a fitting response. After all KLS was a band -- a collective, really, in the most militant sense of the word -- that frankly cared little for the established "local scene" or any of the trappings of the music business in general. When they found themselves the subject of a New Times story back in 1995, their response was to send some friends, none of whom actually played in the band, to pose for the official photo shoot. A typical Dadaist response from a group that was anything but typical, and for whom making it (having a career in rock and roll) was the furthest thing on their minds. Their move from Miami to Atlanta over a year ago seemed less a statement about their own aspirations than a comment on the climate for meaningful art in South Florida. In that spirit simply assembling a concert in Ray's name seems like a cop-out. If the idea is to raise money, why not take hostages for ransom? Or a bank heist? Anything would be more fitting than the rote filing on- and offstage of the very music that KLS detested.
-- Brett Sokol
Send your music news, local releases, and general gunk to Brett Sokol at 2800 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137. Fax to 305-571-7678 or e-mail email@example.com
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.